Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Conversation With Carol from May Dreams Gardens

If you spend much time in the gardening blogosphere, you probably know Carol of May Dreams Gardens. Carol is one of the nicest bloggers out there and she has a fantastic blog from which she hosts Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Garden Bloggers' Book Club. She received the 2007 Mouse & Trowel Award (also known as the Mousies) for being the "Blogger You'd Most Like as a Neighbor. " Undoubtedly however, the proudest moment of Carol's blogging career was this past Friday the 13th, when she won the prestigious Leave Me Alone I'm Digging Rainfall Contest, by (almost) correctly guessing that the black billowing cloud over my house, the one that sent animals and small children running for cover and a local boatbuilder to the library to find out how long a cubit was, dropped an astounding 2/10 inch of rain on my garden.

But who is the person behind the blog? In an effort to find out, the managing editor of Leave Me Alone I'm Digging authorized his top investigative reporter to travel all the way to Indiana to find out. Unfortunately, due to budgetary constraints resulting from renovations at LMAID World Headquarters (and a quick veto from our CEO) the trip was canceled. (All the money's in the entertainment business, you know, and hard news suffers for it...) Needless to say, the staff was quite crestfallen, as we were all looking forward to meeting the lady who wears a full-length white dress and bonnet while pushing an old-fashioned reel mower. (The disappointment was mitigated somewhat when we learned that the thumbnail on Carol's blog is actually NOT Carol, but an image from a 1910 seed catalog.)

Plan B was to conduct an interview by email, and Carol graciously agreed to answer my questions, somehow finding time in between responding to 70 comments from Bloom Day, maintaining her family history blogs, prowling the countryside in search of another hoe to add to her collection, trapping rabbits, and advising Indiana Pacers' coach Jim O'Brien on hoops strategy, not to mention actually gardening...

DW: According to your profile, you've been a blogger since 2002, and it looks like you started May Dreams in 2004. I guess that makes you one of the pioneers in garden blogging. How did you get interested in blogging?

CAROL: I am far from being a pioneer in garden blogging. Though I set up the Blogger account a long time ago, posts were a bit sporadic until about 18 months ago, and then it just “stuck”. I got interested in blogging because I like writing and wanted to try out this new way of quickly getting on the web. Once I realized there were a lot of garden blogs out there, and it was a good way to connect with other gardeners, I really got interested.

DW: Keeping a blog updated regularly takes time and mental energy, especially if you put a great deal of thought into your posts and respond to comments, as you obviously do. Why keep doing it, when you probably have tons of other things that need attention as well?

CAROL: I’ve found people all over the world who are as passionate about gardening as I am, and in real life, there aren’t so many passionate gardeners. I like the interaction with these other passionate gardeners, though I have yet to find someone with a hoe collection like mine.

DW: In your opinion, what makes a great garden blog?

CAROL: I like to read stories, sagas, what people are feeling and thinking and doing about gardening. I like pictures to go along with the text but not just pictures only (though sometimes, the pictures are the story!) A great garden blog makes me think, gives me new ideas for my own garden.

DW: You're in Zone 5 (Indiana). What are the biggest challenges and greatest benefits of gardening in your area of the country?

CAROL: We have all kinds of weather from sub zero some winters to 90’s in the summertime. I think that is a benefit because you get the downtime of winter, so spring is that much better.

DW: What areas of your garden give you the greatest joy (ie, a shade garden, a butterfly garden, a veggie garden, etc.)?

CAROL: All of them give joy at different times. Right now, the vegetable garden is a great place, but in the spring, the front where most of the bulbs are is wonderful.

DW: How did you first begin gardening and why do you continue?

CAROL: I am one of those people who was always attracted to gardening, and from the time I remember I helped my Dad in his garden, and even got a degree in Horticulture, though I don’t work in the horticulture industry. I can’t imagine not gardening. People I know can’t imagine me not gardening. I am a gardener, pure and simple. I will garden until I die and then they can bury me with my trowel in one hand and Felco pruners in the other! (Ugh, that’s kind of gruesome to think about).

DW: Anything else you'd like to add about yourself, your garden, your blogs, or the world in general?

CAROL:One thing I didn’t expect when I started blogging was the “community aspect” of garden bloggers. I started the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club as a way to keep garden bloggers connected to one another in the fall and winter when many thought they would have nothing to post about, and so were talking about letting their blogs go dormant in the winter. I also am overwhelmed by how many garden bloggers have joined in for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th day of each month. It is like a garden tour each month to see what everyone has blooming!

Thank you, Carol, for bringing your knowledge, enthusiasm, and warmth to the gardening blogosphere. I know I speak for all of your readers when I say that I really enjoy May Dreams Gardens and appreciate the thought that you put into not only your posts but the personal responses to the comments as well. Good luck with keeping the rabbits away, and as for the Pacers, tell Coach O'Brien that he just needs a few Tar Heels on the team!


Gina said...

Hi David - what a fantastic idea, interviewing Carol! I love this post! Thanks for sharing it with us. I also love Carol. She's really helped me a lot with gardening stuff AND she's a basketball fan. It's not every day that I find other girls who love NBA like me.

Christa said...

Great post. I enjoyed learning more about Carol. I adore her blog and her presence in the garden blogging community.

Pam/Digging said...

I enjoyed the interview too. Carol's blog is always a joy to read and to look at, and it's a treat to learn a little more about her.

No Rain said...

I'm glad Carol mentioned this blog on her GTS post today. I enjoyed reading the interview and intend to be back to visit.

Carolyn gail said...

Like the good neighbor she is, Carol is always there to cheer us on ! What a great interview. Thanks so much for highlighting this great blogger.

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chigiy said...

Nice Blog.
I love birds also. I have bird houses and nest boxes, feeders and birdbaths everywhere. My favorite things about birds is they keep pests at a minimum.
Great interview with Carol. She is an awesome gardener and blogger. It was a pleasure to read.

Stuart said...

Great interview David. Carol is a colossal ambassador of our claimed patch in the blogosphere and it was great to read your intuitive questions and Carol's great answers.

Gotta Garden said...

Very enjoyable! I learned some new things about did a great interview!

I love the name of your blog! I'm going to have to come back and do some reading!

Iris said...

What a fantastic interview. Great get! I started reading her blog after you mentioned it in yours, and you've both been inspiring me even before having an actual garden.

PS: Bless your heart for name-checking the poor unsung managing editor. Oh, how many years I toiled under that title while people wondered what the heck I did all day.

Carol said...

David... thanks again for the contest and the chance to be interviewed. I'm kind of embarrassed (but flattered) by the nice comments people left. That's the thing about garden bloggers, not a mean one in the whole blogosphere! All are encouraging and supportive, everywhere I see them comment.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

David in Greensboro NC said...

Thanks to everyone for your good words about the interview with Carol. I wanted to do something different and fun, and I hoped that it would be well-received.

I agree with Carol that garden bloggers are the most positive, encouraging people in the blogosphere. I appreciate the time you take to read my blog and hope you enjoy it.

ABQ-B-Fly Guy said...

Well done David! I enjoyed your into to the interview..very witty! Thanks for something different.


Colleen said...

This was a great interview! I enjoyed learning more about Carol (one of my absolute favorite garden bloggers!) Great idea to interview her!

David in Greensboro NC said...

Fly-guy--Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it.

Colleen--Carol's one of my favorites too!